tv Your Business MSNBC December 6, 2014 2:30am-3:01am PST
they learned what life on the road was like as members of a gospel singing group. they've turned that experience into a luxury tour bus company that pop stars are going gaga over. how their musical experience made them transportation entrepreneurs. that's coming up next on "your business." small businesses are revitalizing the economy. and american express open is
here to help. that's why we are proud to present "your business" on msnbc. hi, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business." brothers trent and hoey hemphill know a thing or two about buses. growing up as part of the gospel group the hemphills they traveled millions of miles on their family bus which was perfect training for launching a luxury coach company when they left their music careers. pioneers in the entertainment bus industry their commitment to exceeding expectations on every tour, every time, has resulted in a client list that's a who's who of musicians, actors and politicians. if you've ever wondered how lady gaga, justin timberlake, rihanna, britney spears, aerosmith, cher or even the president, get from point "a" to
point "b" when they're on tour, talk to these guys. >> you have to stay focused on really what you're about. and that's what we do. is just our customers happen to be famous. >> and what they're really about is going the extra mile. literally getting people where they need to go in style, and comfort, without having to worry about the details. >> you have 90 buses, and you know, 10 to 12 people on each vehicle. so, you know, at night you may have 1,000 people moving by the time you go to lay your head down. you have to know that you've done everything you can to give them a safe and comfortable experience. >> when you walk around the offices at hemphill brothers coach company in nashville, you'll see the walls covered with many of their celebrity
clients. clients that relied on their service because they did one simple thing right. they delivered on what they promised. and in the topsy-turvy world of touring, they rely on hemphill for being a stable force in an often unstable world. ♪ >> it's a world trent and joey hemphill know firsthand with a history steeped in music, the two brothers grew up in a sort of partridge family-style bus, singing with their family band, the hemphills. >> i traveled 2 million miles on a bus singing gospel music. so, it was a very interesting way to be raised. usually, in one town, you set up your gear, you perform. you tear down your gear, and then you go to bed, and wake up in the next town. >> with an intimate knowledge of what life is like on the road, the brothers knew a thing or two about what someone needs to have a relaxing and trouble-free trip. so, they decided to start their bus leasing company in 1980. >> we know that feeling of being on the bus, riding down the road, or being on stage.
so, i think that was a valuable time for us and a training ground for me and my brother or what we do now. >> pioneers in the luxury coach industry, the brothers scraped enough money together to buy two old buses to get their start. they transformed them on the inside and out so they looked brand-new. doing most of the work themselves. >> these buses were 15 years old when we bought them so they already had over 1 million miles on them. so each time when we would book a tour, they would be the last buses to leave nashville, and the first ones to come home. and sometimes they would come home on a wrecker. but we learned a lot, and we were able to learn the business end of the bus business and just learn to survive, even with older equipment. >> they didn't have a lot of money, but they had a ton experience and learned early on to underpromise and overdeliver. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they did whatever it took to keep their buses rolling, support the drivers, and keep
their clients happy. they started doing small, local tours at first. their big break came two years after starting the business, when van halen called. >> i'll never forget the day they were in nashville, and they needed to add a bus to their tour. and just so happened we had a bus available. and took the bus down there with a driver, and got to meet the management, and obviously we did a good job, because 30 years later, we did the whole van halen tour, 2012. >> being prepared for that first call led to many more. and the ability to start phasing out their old buses and buying and customizing new ones to fit the needs of their high profile clients. as the company grew, they poured all of their resources into bringing every aspect of building their customized buses in house from the custom woodwork to the upholstery and painting. if a bus is ordered for a tour and it's supposed to be
delivered on a certain date, it is. after all, if justin timberlake's 2020 experience tour starts on a thursday in cleveland, then justin's star bus and all the support buses for the musicians, the crew, and everyone, need to be there. >> you might have an artist that has a special mattress. or they have an artist that likes all white. white leather furniture, or white carpet, white drapes. and so we'll take an existing bus, and we'll make it white for that tour. there are families that travel together that have new babies. they want those cribs, you know, the monitors. we put tanning beds in buses. and sometimes we'll set up a recording studio in a bus. and that way they can go down the road, and record their latest hit. >> with careful and measured growth, hemphill brothers expanded their fleet slowly. only doing so when they could adequately increase their driver pool and support staff in nashville with the right people. with less than 5% turnover,
frank and joey have cultivated trade and built an extremely loyal and productive team of employees. starting with the day-to-day face of the company, their drivers. >> we went out there and hired the best of the best for our company. even when we really felt like we couldn't afford to do that. we couldn't afford not to. so we had to have the best drivers that we could possibly find. and that built company pride. being able to go out on a tour and do it successfully, and know that when the tour was over, that client said i want you guys back next year. >> mark larson started as a driver, and now schedules the fleet of almost 100 buses. he often has to face the painful reality that they sometimes have to turn away longtime clients because of scheduling conflicts. if they don't have the best drivers, mechanics and equipment ready to roll on a tour, they simply won't take the gig. >> i'll look at our business
like a chain that you're as strong as your weakest link. so it's very important that everybody that you got out there, driving your bus, is top notch, and all of your equipment is in really good condition. getting a call from air force one, you know, booking buses for the president, getting a text from george strait saying i want you to build me a new bus. or getting a call from the oprah show saying we want to use your buses for her show. it's always something new. and it's never boring around here. >> when you first sign up for an e-mail list you usually think it's a good idea. hundreds of junk mails later, you might find that our website of the week is just what your inbox needs. unroll.me is a free service that helps you unsubscribe from the messages you don't want. the system analysts what listserves you signed up for. you get the choice to stay subscribed, unsubscribe or have your e-mail to a rollup. the web may be a great place to
find your next big business idea so here now are five sites you should check out to get some inspiration for a new product or service courtesy of businessesdaily.com. one, stroll through stumbleupon. the site recommends websites to check out and can be a good way to get inspired by context you wouldn't have necessarily found through other channels. two, reddit is a good place to start if you're on the prowl for a new tech related product or service idea. users submit content that others can vote up or down. the ask me anything feature can help you learn what potential customers want and need. three, pinterest is one of the best ways to see what products are trending now, and comments are open to everyone so you could get a firsthand look of what people think about different images on the site. four, search twitter questions. don't just follow trending tweets or hashtags. scour through questions people are asking for new ideas.
and five, visit niche networks and apps. seek out social media sites that would attract your clientele. knowing your audience helps you better serve their needs. the role of websites has changed since social media came onto the scene. your website and social media platforms serve entirely different purposes and shouldn't be twins. but branding the two should be kept front and center. so here now with some quick tips to help tailor your content for the right audience and experience is a founding partner and ceo of the s-3 agency an ad agency with a special focus on social media so great to see you denise. >> it's great to be here. >> you've done this so much for so many of the makeovers we've had on this show it's great to have you talk to our whole audience about ways to think
about your website and ways to think about social media and so let's just start with the idea of community experience. which one is a community experience or if they both are in what ways are they different? >> well, by default social media kind of gives it away. that's the community. but it used to be that the website was everything and then social media emerged so websites aren't really the primary engagement platform anymore. that's where individuals go. and individuals go there for a very specific purpose. they're looking to find out about your product or service, maybe where it can be bought, how to contact you if they're annoyed or maybe they want to send you a nice compliment and maybe to find out how to find your social media that's a big thing that people go to brand websites now for. so all that stuff should be easily found but also should allow the individuals to determine which information they want. >> and you have an example here for, is it 8:00?
>> 8:00 coffee is one of our clients and we recently redid their website and really looked at what it was that people were looking to do and created paths to allow each individual to find what they wanted as easily as they could. very important. on the other hand, social media, if you look at facebook, and we have something here from eight owe clock coffee to see the difference, facebook is where you can have the quick little interaction where you can give them a little surprise. where you can say hey, we're going to define the experience for you. sure, people go on your facebook page and dig down deep, but most likely, the most recent thing that you posted they're going to interact with. so you're creating that control and then the community is responding to it. and often responding to each other. which is really nice. >> and then here the the predictable which i'm guessing is the website versus surprising. >> yeah. >> it's not that you can never have surprise on your website. little easter eggs or something you can throw in and that's wonderful but the focus is getting people what they want when they want it. >> right. >> so if i'm a zoo people are probably going to see what is the most recent exhibit that's important for me to know about. >> the sea lions. i know i'm coming there to see
the exhibit is where the contact information how do i get there. >> what are the hours. i'm a mom, i'm busy i want to be able to see it easily on mobile or wherever i'm looking at it from and that's very important. that's turtleback zoo and also on their social media on the other hand again you can sort of throw something surprising out there so you have the information on the website you can inspire the social. so, as everybody knows, february 2nd is groundhog day. >> uh-huh. >> so our groundhog at turtleback zoo may not be as famous as punxsutawney phil. he's very accurate and he takes over twitter for the entire month of february. so he's predicting way more than the weather. he predicts super bowl winners, accurately. he predicts, you know, who's going to be an american idol and do well who's going to have a fashion trend what the all rightry numbers may or may not be. he's not always 100% i've got to tell you but it's something fun that people engage with. >> i have heard you talk about this groundhog before. this is not the first time i've heard about this groundhog. okay then finally focus on engagement. so the website obviously, you want to come up high in the search engine results. >> you do. that that a lot to do with the experience on the website. >> make sure you're writing correctly. not in a secret way trying to
check the web crawlers. they're on to that now. that's sort of a thing that we used to do years ago. now as long as you write properly about the things that you want people to find, in thinking about the terms that they'll be searching to find you organically that will start happening. whereas social media you want engagement, you want quick little statements something that has a great picture. pictures aren't really going to do anything for seo but on facebook for example people have a great response emotionally to that picture and a quick little thing. >> it kind of goes back to predictable versus surprising because on the website. to have good seo you want to have good content that people are looking for and expecting to get it all wrapped together, and then also surprising and engagement fit together on the -- >> it does. and so you're right they shouldn't be twins but your website and your social media should be related. you don't want to feel like it's an entirely different brand when you go from one to the other so it's just walking that fine line of which bit goes where. sometimes there are things that can be shared. but think about each one with a different head so you're giving that visitor the right experience.
>> great advice. easy way to think about this. thank you so much. as small business owners we are inundated with pitches for new tools and services. but the best way to know what works is to find out what other people are using. we recently asked our your business viewers to share their favorite small business web tools. >> we use an app called over and it's $1.99 and we use it to be able to put websites, as well as any branding message across any photo that we use. and so when you share this with your social media and it gets hashtaged the viewer immediately can tell that it's from kirk's eye wear. >> samepage.io. we use this app. free for ten or fewer employees in your company. it's a collaboration app. we use it to throw things at the wall and see if they stick. edit, chop, hack, and then when we're done we take the output and put it into our official package that we use for our customers.
>> one of my favorite websites is scoop it. if you're an entrepreneur or a small business and you're looking for content, this is a great site for you to go to, and what you will find is that there are a bunch of bloggers and writers that are aggregating the information. you can go in and just scoop it and share it with your community. >> text messaging has not built my data base for e-mails therefore i found a service called virtual merchant mobile and it is a great website because not an application not only just allow me to gather their swipe their card at a good rate it's much better than square or other products out there it also allows me to gather an e-mail address and in the last two years we've gathered 22,000 customers e-mail addresses from working at expos and shows that if we had used another source we would not have had. >> so i use what's up simply i love it because i have people working overseas. and so, it allows us very simply to just connect and communicate very easily simply because the
e-mail usually what's happening is people don't necessarily go on the e-mails but they always have their what's up like blinking, coming up, and -- >> my favorite app that i've been using for about five years or so is called check this it's an online shareable checklist for outlining service. what i love about it is it's quick it's easy it works by for example using keystrokes to capture information, make a note, grab a url from the web and all of these information can be verified. >> one lightly is swiftly which they do little design fixes fast so like it's christmas and you want to put a santa hat on your logo they'll turn it around within an hour and it's really inexpensive and great. >> still to come the cheeseburger network and jay golds from "the new york times" answer your questions on buy sell agreements and whether or not it's possible to be too innovative. and where better to learn about the fine art of negotiating than from the hagglers at work's famous fulton fish market. my business only works
if everything works together. there are a million moving parts to keep track of. and almost as many expenses. receiptmatch with quickbooks lets you sync your business expenses. just snap your business card receipts with your smartphone, tag, and transfer to intuit quickbooks. only with business cards from american express open. i'm john kaplan, and i'm a member of a synchronized world. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. steinway & sons builds a piano to a standard and not to a price and that's a very unusual approach to marketing these days of product.
but for us we build this instrument, always to improve it, to make it better, but not to build it to a price point. >> negotiating can be tricky. first some small business owners bargaining can be comfortable and things can get contentious. we've had a lot of experts on the show tell us how to do this including academics and negotiating consultants. but we received no better advice about haggling than from joey at new york's fulton fish market. >> 785. >> i'm coming in here, i admittedly know very little about fish. >> right. >> i'm here with a mission because i have to buy some fish. what would i do? >> there are four things. number one, you must know your product. whether it's fish, or stocks, you have to know the kind of
commodities you're dealing with. in this case you have to know the quality, the size, the species. you can't look at a red snapper and say how much is that bluefish? that's not a good thing. >> because they will take you for someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. >> somebody who just fell off a banana boat and you have no time for that. >> do your research. >> the second thing you have to know is you have to know yourself. you have to exude confidence. you have to be firm when you counter and not firm when you need to be. >> that's a good negotiator. >> the third thing you need to know is know the person you're buying from. you have to know if he has a lot of product or a little product. if he's sitting on a lot and you know he's sitting on a lot, he's probably going to give you a lower price than somebody else. >> know the person you're negotiating with and you talk about knowing their supply, supply and demand, but what about knowing them as a person? >> with any business, you know the person, you know him on a daily basis, you're going to get a better price than someone else because he likes you. >> when you go into a negotiation, do you have a number in the back of your mind
where you say i'm willing to sell at "x." i'm not willing to go under. >> most times. >> you'll get to that point. >> you don't want to lose money. you want to make as much money for your company as possible. you're going to try to maintain a certain number. >> how do you decide when to be tough and when to be nice? >> you bat those hazel eyes at me, you'll get away with it once. twice, maybe. three times, it's not going to work. you have to depend on knowledge. >> by nice, i wasn't referring to flirting. >> okay. >> by nice, i'm saying how do you know how you should drive a hard bargain? >> again, that has to deal with availability. how much product is around and how many people want it. it's supply and demand. there's a lot of supply and everybody wants it. the price will stay moderate. if there's not a lot of supply and everybody wants it, that price is going to stay high. and there's a fourth thing that i didn't mention yet. >> which is?
>> one second. you got to try and fit in. you're not going to get anywhere dressed like that. >> all right. i'll see you in a sec. i'm going to go put this on. >> love the look. >> much better. >> clipboard. no one can can can be a purchaser without a clipboard. >> all right. >> hold it close to you like this so nobody can actually see your business. >> is there anything on this clipboard? >> absolutely not. >> and a pencil. these guys are big met fans, so i brought you a met hat. makes you fit in. they're going to like you right off the bat. >> all right. >> hey, there. >> bobby. >> good to meet you. >> nice to meet you. >> know your product. >> how much are the jumbo? >> jumbo for 550 and large for 4.50. >> jersey or long island?
>> those are from jersey. >> know yourself. >> is this your best price? >> that is the best price for the best quality. i have less price for cheaper. >> i'm not interested in less quality. >> know how high or how low you can go. >> 450 is the best i can do. >> look, it's my first time here. i'm going to be coming back here a lot. so, let's just make a deal. first time, beginning of doing business, not the end. >> in good faith, i'll charge you $440. hopefully i'll trust you to come back. >> i'm actually looking for more like $4. >> i cannot do it. >> what if we split the difference there. between $4 and $4.40. >> you got a deal. hopefully i'll see you next week. >> it's time now to answer some of your business questions. let's get our board of directors in here.
jay goldtz is head of the goldtz business group, where he runs and owns five different businesses and a lead business blogger for "new york times" founder and ceo of cheeseburger a network of websites dedicated to delivering funny content to about 20 monthly unique visitors. so great to see both of you guys. >> thanks for having us. >> two serial entrepreneurs. we should get a lot of good stuff from you guys. let's dive right into the first question and it is about the possible perils of being inventive. >> how do you know when you're too innovative? when you're stretching beyond what your customers can really handle. you see they have a problem that you can solve and the innovation is not quite within their reach of understanding. >> ben, you are in a world where innovation is a buzz word and everybody is trying to be innovative but is there a time when you're being too innovative? >> yeah, there's absolutely a time this happens and many businesses fall in this trip. instead of actually doing business. business is actually about doing
something, generating revenue, giving people what they want and need in order to solve their practical problems. so, if you're doing research, that's great. maybe you should get a grant to do the research. if you want to make a business out of it, you have to create it into something more practical that you can lead the customers a little bit to help them get there. >> jay, what i liked about them is he said, i see the problem, i have a solution, but they're not understanding it. i've i'm being too innovative for them. is this a communication or a marketing issue this guy's having? >> it could go either way. a couple words i found interesting. he has a solution. i think you have to add the word, i think i have a solution. because can you be sure if you're not the person running the business. do you know enough about the business. the first half is invasion doesn't necessarily work. it depends on whether it fits
into the business. and then as far as i'm understanding it, maybe they do understand it. maybe they understand it better than you do because they're running their business. it's possible that that solution is not a great solution and you haven't accepted that or it's certainly possible that the company doesn't have the resources or the cash flow or the margins or maybe just the corporate culture. they can't think that differently. and it's the job of the consultant coming in to really understand the business and to figure out what the restraint in that business are. so, i would say it could go either way. maybe the consultants too far out there and it's not going to work or the business isn't putting enough energy into figuring it out. >> good point. let's move on to the next question, it's about small business partnerships. >> my business partner and i were wondering at what point should we put a buy/sell agreement agreement in place to protect each other and our loved ones in the event something happens? >> i just received this question from a good friend of mine and i said, now. put it in now. what do you think, jay? do you do that at the beginning?
should you wait a while? >> before the beginning, for sure. the bigger issue is the chances of something happening quote/unquote to one of the partners is far, far less than the partners deciding they don't want to work together any more. they have different motivations or one feels they're carrying more load than the other. the fact is many partnerships fail and you absolutely should have something figured out it. if things don't know the way we think they're going to go. no assets and a consulting business. or if it's a business with fixed assets, how much it is going to cost. you should absolutely do that before you start the business. >> i find so many partners come together, ben. we have a great idea and getting along really well and they just don't think about this. what happens if it doesn't work out or what happens if god forbid something happens to one of us and now all of a sudden your spouse owns it.
>> a lot of entrepreneurs choose partners like they're going out drinking for the evening. when the morning comes and you don't like the partner you're working with what happens to the assets and the value you created? when you start out in the businesses you have limited resources and limited time. you'll spend that time making a stock agreement and a lot of people decide not to do that because they think it's too hard. the reason it's too hard is people are overthinking the problem. when you're starting off, you don't have much. don't spend too much time into this. keep it simple. agree to revise it a year down the road, so that you don't spend $10,000 on a lawyer trying to sell a business or split it up. >> i like the idea of agreeing on a timetable. let's do this here and one year we'll revisit it. ben and jay, so great for seeing you both. thank you for letting us pick your brain. hopefully we see you back here soon. >> thank you. >> and thank all of you so much for joining us today. if you missed anything from today's show, go over to our website, openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's
segments, plus web exclusive content with a lot more information to help your business grow. follow us on twitter @msnbcyourbiz and don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook and instagram, too. on our next show, we meet a woman from los angeles who started an innovative baby seat cleaning business. find out how she partners with brands moms already know and love to create awareness and credibility. a win-win situation for everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg, remember, we make your business, our business. my business only works if everything works together. there are a million moving parts to keep track of. and almost as many expenses. receiptmatch with quickbooks lets you sync your business expenses. just snap your business card receipts with your smartphone,
tag, and transfer to intuit quickbooks. only with business cards from american express open. i'm john kaplan, and i'm a member of a synchronized world. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. when pay pull. these are the annual jobs totals year by year for the bill clinton presidency. clinton numbers are in blue, and the red years before him and after him, those are the two republican presidents he was in between, and george bush sr. before him and george bush jr. after him. when you see numbers like this, people like to have a